Why many lawmakers lost return tickets – Gbajabiamila

Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the House of Representatives, on Tuesday said many lawmakers lost the tickets of their parties to return back because of the delegate system which turned out to be what it is supposed to be.

Over 100 out of the 360 members of the House of Representatives lost their parties’ tickets at the just concluded primary election.

Gbajabiamila said many of members of the parliament lost because they were not even given a fair shot though they were good legislators who could contribute to national development.

The speaker made these observations in his remarks to welcome the lawmakers to a resumed plenary after the suspension of sittings to enable lawmakers participate in the primary election of their parties.

He said when the legislators fought for direct primaries as the only method of nomination in the Electoral Act, 2022 they knew exactly what they were saying.

Gbajabiamila said: “It pains me very deeply, that the process has gone the way it has gone. We will continue to push and continue to fight for our members, for democracy, for the institution and this country.

“I make bold to say here that the legislature has once again suffered losses. The loss really is not for members who lost, it is a loss to democracy, to the institution and to the country. If it means anything, I know and I am aware that many of our members did not lose their primaries because they were rejected by their constituents.

“I have experienced political loss. And I can speak to the feelings of loss and disappointment that arise as a result. From that experience, I wish to share with you the everlasting truth that none of us is defined by the outcome of any election at any one time. What defines us before God and our fellow men is what we do in the time we have in public office and on earth. We are judged on earth and after by the work of our hands, quality of our service, the content of our character and passion of our convictions. These are the things that matter most and will count in the fullness of time.

“Therefore, I enjoin you all to set aside your feelings about recent electoral experiences to focus on serving the mandate we still have. Whereas in the past, the start of the electoral calendar marked the end of governance as a priority, that will not be the case in this 9th Assembly.

“Our term in office does not end till next year. Until the moment it does, until the last minute of the final hour, we will do the people’s work and serve their interests. That is the oath we swore and the commitment we will live up to, come what may.”

The speaker said the Electoral Act, 2022 which is amongst the most significant legislation passed in this 9th Assembly and lawmakers have already begun to witness its implementation and draw lessons that will guide future reform efforts.

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“It is necessary to note that the process by which the Electoral Act became law has highlighted valuable lessons we will do well to take cognisance of. These lessons should inform and motivate us to improve the National Assembly’s law-making process.

“Honourable colleagues, we must never forget that our work here is consequential. When we get it right, we can vastly improve the lives and circumstances of our people. And when we fall short, our country is poorer for it,” he said.

Gbajabiamila stated that between now and the general elections, the lawmakers have to resolve to devote their minds and energy to the pressing concerns of governance.

He said this is what the people who sent them to the National Assembly expect of them at this time when the country has various significant challenges to contend with.

“Insecurity remains for us all a matter of the most serious concern. Barely a week ago, a church in Owo, Ondo State, became the scene of incomprehensible violence when gunmen attacked the congregation in the middle of service on the day of Pentecost.

“This House demands that the security agencies identify the perpetrators and sponsors of this depraved act, and we will hold their feet to the fire until they do so,” the speaker said.

Gbajabiamila said the lawmakers will also continue activities to ensure full implementation of the Legislative Agenda of the 9th House of Representatives.

This according to him includes consideration and passage of relevant legislation and other stakeholder engagement and outreach efforts.

He said: “Several legislative agenda bills have been in Committee for longer than they should. Next week, I will invoke Order 18(3)(g) to commit those bills to the Committee of the Whole or any other relevant Committee of the House unless provided with a compelling reason to do otherwise.

“We have a limited time left to live up to our commitments in our legislative agenda, and we must make the time count.

“I have long believed that legislative control of the public purse is one of our most important and consequential responsibilities. Since we resumed office, we have been responsible for passing three Appropriation Acts with trillions of naira in public expenditure included therein.

“In this our final year in office, it should be a matter of the highest priority for us to thoroughly review the implementation of those Appropriation Acts across the ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“I urge the chairmen and members of the oversight committees of the House to begin now to undertake this review and to prepare reports that will be considered by the House and form part of the legacy of this 9th Assembly.

Gbajabiamila noted that the constitutional amendment process is still ongoing and the National Assembly has already sent several constitutional amendment bills to the State Houses of Assembly for consideration.

“While we cannot dictate the pace of activities in the State legislatures, we must consider the possibility that these proposals are at risk of being forgotten amidst the heightened politicking across the country.

“Therefore, to the extent that we can, there may be a need to coordinate interactions with the state legislatures to ensure timely consideration of the bills. The leadership of the House of Representatives will examine the options we have in this regard and take a decision shortly.

“Honourable Colleagues, I have said before that the success or failure of the 9th House of Representatives would not be the result of the actions of any one individual. We will be judged on the sum of our collective efforts. Therefore, we are in this together.

“Let us continue to dedicate ourselves to the arduous work of nation-building. Let us remain steadfast in doing those things intended to make gentle the life of man in this world. And as we ask for God’s favour in our endeavours, let us make certain that our decisions and actions and the priorities we pursue are always deserving of grace,” he added.

Meanwhile, the House adjourned plenary to Wednesday to mourn a deceased member, Nse Ekpenyong who died during the break.

Ekpenyong, until his death, was the lawmaker representing Oron federal constituency of Akwa Ibom State in the House of Representatives.

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